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The Corporation

Posted: 24/11/17

Graduation glory for West Notts students

University-level students at West Nottinghamshire College donned their caps and gowns for two graduation ceremonies at the historic Kelham Hall, near Newark, on Saturday (18 November).

  • Two graduation ceremonies were held at Kelham Hall to celebrate university-level students' achievements
  • The Right Honourable Baronness Morris of Yardley was keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony for the University of Derby students
  • BA (Hons) Sport Studies student Teresa-Maria Higgins was proud to collect a Principal's Student of the Year Award
  • Special award winners from the University of Derby graduation ceremony with Professor Nikolaos Antonopoulos and Dame Asha
  • BA (Hons) Criminal Justice student, Gerda Griskonyte won a Future Focus award
  • Hayley Watkins was awarded the Principal's Student of The Year Award for her achievements on the FD in Tourism and Events Management
  • Special award winners from Birmingham City University's graduation ceremony with Dame Asha and Professor Julian Beer
  • Business and Management (Top-Up) student, Kirsty Aram collects her Future Focus award from Dame Asha
  • High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire David Sneath gave the keynote speech at the graduation ceremony for Birmingham City University students
  • Executive mayor for Mansfield District Council, Kate Allsop, was overwhelmed with her Honorary Fellowship award

More than 250 students graduated from university-level courses last academic year, seeing the college organising two ceremonies to enable everyone to take to the stage to celebrate their efforts. 

Students collected their graduation certificates from Dame Asha Khemka DBE, principal and chief executive, while Professor Nikolaos Antonopoulos, pro-vice chancellor at the University of Derby and Professor Julian Beer, deputy vice chancellor at Birmingham City University, presented the students with their university-level qualifications.

Attending the event were special guests and keynote speakers, former Secretary of State for Education and Skills, The Right Honourable Baronness Morris of Yardley, and High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire David Sneath.

The graduation ceremonies also saw students collect Outstanding Student of the Year awards – with two students receiving the Principal’s Student of the Year award for outstanding performance on their courses.

One of the Principal’s Student of the Year awards went to BA (Hons) Sport Studies student Teresa-Maria Higgins.

Teresa-Maria’s tutor praised her for her conscientiousness and diligence during her studies as well as noting the personal sacrifices she has made. She was praised for an excellent dissertation project which was based on the impact of wearable technologies on exercise behaviour in sedentary groups.

Having gained a first class honours degree, Teresa-Maria is now moving into the teacher arena, delivering modules on the HE sport programme at the college.

Teresa-Maria, 40, from Mansfield, said: “I felt incredibly proud to have been presented with both of the awards. When I received the letter informing me that I had won an outstanding student award, I was overwhelmed, I knew that I had worked hard for my degree, but in my opinion, I had worked no harder than my peers. 

“To hear the lovely explanation as to why I’d been awarded the outstanding student award was humbling and made the hard work feel worthwhile, and I had no idea that I had won the Principal’s award, which was a wonderful honour.

“I’m currently studying my PGCE (+14) on a part-time basis at the college and teaching on the foundation degrees in sports coaching and sports science. Eventually I’d like to gain full-time employment as an FE or HE tutor, whilst undertaking my Masters in Public Health (International Health) at the University of Nottingham, with a view to progressing onto a PhD or Doctorate following the completion of this and working within a research field, in addition to teaching.”

The other Principal’s Student of the Year award winner was Hayley Watkins who graduated from the Foundation Degree in Tourism and Event Management.

Hayley was highly-praised for her consistent positive attitude and professional approach as well as her great attributes of leadership and organisational skills. She has shown competence in her research activities resulting in first class theory work. She is now moving on to the next level of Higher Education.

Hayley, 21, from Forest Town, said: “I’ve studied at college for five years now. I started doing the level 3 tourism programme originally and I really enjoyed it. This encouraged me to go for the foundation degree and that’s been brilliant, so that’s why I’ve enrolled on the BA (Hons) Business Management (Top-Up) and it’s great so far.

“I’d really like to work in customer service, hopefully within management. I am currently working at Center Parcs and I’d love to stay there and develop my skills.

“I knew that I had been nominated for the outstanding award, which was really great, but I had no idea that I’d get the principal’s award too. It’s made me reflect that all that hard work is worth it and I am thrilled to have received these awards. It certainly brought tears to my mum’s eyes.”

The event also saw members of the college’s own staff graduate from courses held at the Mansfield-based college.

Two college awards were presented this year in the form of Future Focus awards which were presented to BA (Hons) Criminal Justice student, Gerda Griskonyte and BA (Hons) Business and Management (Top-Up) student, Kirsty Aram.

The Future Focus award was created by the college to provide students with an opportunity to develop, evidence and effectively communicate their employability skills in preparation for getting their dream job or promotion, recognising that a degree is not enough; a degree alone will not automatically open doors after students graduate. 

Meanwhile, executive mayor for Mansfield District Council, Kate Allsop, was awarded with the Honorary Fellowship Award – the first of its kind given by the college.

The award honours prominent members of the community. Kate was presented with the Honorary Fellowship Award to recognise her significant contribution both to the college and to the wider Mansfield community.

Ms Allsop said: “I am overwhelmed by the award, which is the first of its kind to be given. I believe passionately that education is a most precious gift we can give not just to our children but to everyone – a lifelong education. 

“Education is the key to unlock the cage of poverty and employment is the key to break depression. I am proud of the regeneration we have achieved in Mansfield and this award means so much to me.”

Principal and chief executive Dame Asha Khemka said: “The graduation ceremony really is the pinnacle of the academic year for me. I am proud when I visit the classrooms and see the hard work and dedication our students commit to their studies. I am proud when I hear from tutors about all of the wonderful extra-curricular activities that students are getting involved in. And I am extremely proud to see everyone at graduation finally take their moment in the spotlight and collect their hard-earned qualifications.

“We live in a world full of change and economic uncertainties, so it’s critical that each of us develop to prosper and be strong during these challenging times. By continuing a passion for knowledge and learning, our students are preparing themselves well.

“Learning is not just what we read in a book, it is about our experiences, how we go about discovering and defining our own destinations and what we stand for. Many students have made big sacrifices while studying and have invested lots of time, money and energy. But these are wise investments, and exciting futures lie ahead for those with the right attitude, a driven work-ethic and an energetic mind-set.”

The college works in partnership with Birmingham City University and the University of Derby to teach a wide range of university-level courses such as foundation degrees as well as offering seven top-up courses enabling students to achieve an honours degree. 

There are also HND and HNC qualifications and most of its programmes are now being delivered at the Vision University Centre based at the college’s Derby Road campus.